Scotts Landing’s James Groenhart says it has been a privilege being able to share the majestic Mahurangi Harbour with others since buying NZ Oyster Farm Tours this year.
The country’s “only oyster farm tour” departs from the wharf at Scotts Landing and showcases the harbour and its renowned Pacific oysters.
James says oyster farming started early in the Mahurangi in the 1970s after the Pacific oyster allegedly arrived here on pieces of the Auckland Harbour Bridge that had been towed from Japan. On the tour, guests hear how oysters are caught and grown, get to pick up oysters straight from the sea and learn how to shuck them.
“We can always find a quiet bay to shelter in, and then get stuck into shucking and eating oysters. They’re as fresh as you’ll ever have them,” James says.
Opinions vary on how best to eat an oyster. On the tour, some oysters are put on a barbecue for those who don’t like to eat them raw.
Guides also have shallot rice wine vinegar on hand, along with other condiments, and James has been experimenting with a kawakawa infused oil.
However, James’ personal preference is to add a squeeze of fresh lemon and just send them “down the hatch”.
He says the best time to eat oysters is during the colder months, through to late December, while they are fattening up ahead of the spawning season.
James has also bought the Matakana River Tours business after having partnered with Phil Morris last year to add a kayak experience. This offers the opportunity to see the local landscape from a different perspective – by riverboat, kayak or both.
The tour features commentary on the river’s history as a commercial trade route in early European and Maori times, as well as the natural features and wildlife.
“Every trip you see something different.”
Matakana River Tours will resume in October, while the NZ Oyster Farm tours run all year round.
“Both make for an ideal end of year function with private tours tailored to suit,” James says.